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It would appear that technology is outstripping tools designed to safeguard data on HDDs when the PC and/or HDD changes hands. Although the data many of us have is not likely to cause an international furore if lost it may be very uncomfortable on a personal basis.
Apparently much sanitising software can now be reversed and the drive content read. Does this concern you?
"Does this concern you?"
No, it doesn't. I make sure that sensitive data is protected as far as possible whilst in my possession, and no PC of mine ever changes hands without having a new hard drive installed. Old drives are destroyed in the best way possible - hit hard with a hammer, and consigned to the bin.
I recently purchased a second-hand computer from a local computer shop...the hard-drive [80gb] appeared to be nearly empty. (5% in use).
I was able to ' recuva ' about 40gb of music files which were still intact!
The original owner and the shop had been careless ... but I was happy to get 'something for nothing'.
To hit hard with a hammer and consign to the bin will not work so well for those who wish to recycle to another user for say altruistic, economic or even green reasons and may not be an option. As a result security of data may be a major consideration.
Additionally, it may not be so long before even a hammer ceases to work as with technology moving so quickly it is not beyond the possibility of even mechanically damaged storage being recovered economically. What then, or does the eventuality give you no cause for concern?
I have little data other than account numbers and a few documents that I wish to keep private but others (especially business and Governments) have substantial quantities. Perhaps it is these who need to consider such security issues.
There are certain commercial company's that take hard disk destruction to a new level. I have seen units capable of chopping a hard drive into little bits in seconds! Perhaps local recycling centres will introduce this technology?
I have had to deal with sensitive data in the past, used to software to delete and overwrite the data before removing the platters, scratching them all over, then using a hammer to totally mutilate them into a small folded lump........... Good luck and deep pockets to any company who could find them and retrieve any sort of useful data from them!
For any machines I have passed on, the drives have been replaced.
The problem is many people think formatting a drive makes the data unreadable.
That is not the case. It only deletes the File Allocation Table.
For the type of data most people have on their Hard drives one of the free software programs is quite adequate. The following might help http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/howtopermanentlydeletedata.php
I have used Darik's Boot and Nuke and Eraser in the past.
Most files I simply delete, any work files that touch my home PC are deleted with Eraser using 35x overwrite of pseudo random data - I'd like to see anyone recover data after that.
My work laptop drive is fully encrypted, so if it falls into the wrong hands they can have fun breaking the encryption.
If I ever do a spring clean on my PC I tended to use CCleaner to wipe the free space.
As for destroying drives, all our old PCs and laptops are taken away by a company who run the drives through a big induction loop to demagnetise the platters, they're then tested, if there's any readable data on them they simply pop the drive into Madam Guillotine. If the drives are working but empty they're formatted, have Linux installed and shipped to Africa...
I erased a HDD this very morning. I used a cold chisel and a lump hammer.
Anyone wanting to retrieve any data is very welcome to try.
We couldn't afford proper school jotter erasers to modify our homework essay mistakes (early 60's) ... so we used the dry, stale left-over slices of bread that had not been eaten that week to rub out any pencil errors.
'Cos I didn't like to see edible bread go to waste, I improved my essay-writing techniques and diligently made an effort to safe bread.
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